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Exams and assessment

Exceptional circumstances

Our approach to supporting you with exceptional circumstances and programme extensions.

The University realises that there may be circumstances that affect your ability to study and complete your assessments.

We have developed an approach to support you, in consultation with your Student Union Presidents.

Jump to a section to find out more:

Exceptional circumstances

Exceptional circumstances are unforeseen personal, medical or family problems that are outside of your control and affect your performance in assessments. In order to support you in your studies, the University operates an Exceptional Circumstances Policy and process. This process allows you to request extra time for your assessment in order to mitigate against any adverse circumstances you may be experiencing.

Some examples of circumstances under which you may claim are listed below. This is not an exhaustive list; please check the Exceptional Circumstances Policy for a full list.

  • Unforeseen illness, which is sudden and severe in nature
  • Bereavement due to the death of a close family member or friend
  • Being a victim of crime
  • Pregnancy
  • Significant caring responsibilities, for example for a child, family member, or partner with a disability or health condition
  • Family crisis impacting upon your work
  • Legal proceedings, for example jury service or attendance as a witness, plaintiff or defendant
  • Unforeseen changes to working patterns for part-time students

Exceptional Circumstances Policy: Section 18: Exceptional Circumstances Policy 2023-24 (PDF 0.3 MB)

How to claim

Use the drop-down below to learn more about claiming for exceptional circumstances for different time periods.

To apply for any of the following extensions, use our Exceptional Circumstances Claim Form:

Exceptional Circumstances Claim Form (DOC, 67.5 kB)

You choose to self-certify for an extension of up to 7 days. This can apply to more than one assignment if the deadlines fall within the same week. You can self-certify once a semester, and this can be used for physical and mental health. It is designed to help you recover from a short-term illness where it is not appropriate to seek medical advice.

Should you suffer from a bereavement, you can self-certify for a period of 7 days without having to provide any evidence. This does not impact on the once per semester self-certification for short-term illness.

If you need more than 7 days, or have already self-certified on one occasion in the current semester, you can apply through the exceptional circumstances process.

This process requires you to provide evidence along with your application from an independent, third-party expert, for example a GP, health professional, or police service. You must detail the impact the circumstances you are experiencing have had on your studies and why you need the further time to be able to complete your assessment. This is important, as it is this information that helps the University determine the severity of your circumstances and decide whether to approve your claim.

If you do not have evidence when you apply, you will be contacted and given 5 working days to provide it. If you do not provide it before the deadline, your claim will be declined.

Your extension will be granted in weeks (1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks) up to a maximum of 3 weeks. The 3 weeks could have been granted through one or more claims or through extensions from your Learning Support Plan. Extensions from your Learning Support Plan will count towards this 3 week maximum. This means that if you have an extension of 3 weeks through your Learning Support Plan, any claim upheld through the Exceptional Circumstances procedure will mean your assessment will be deferred to the next assessment period.

If you are submitting a claim due to a positive Covid result, you must provide either a signed and dated medical certificate, or GP or healthcare professional letter that confirms you are Covid positive, or a photo of a positive test alongside a piece of paper with your student name, number and date the test was taken.

If you need more than three weeks to complete your assessment due to the severity of your circumstances, your assessment will be deferred to the next assessment period. This will be assessed on the evidence you provide with your claim and your explanation of the impact upon your ability to study and complete your assessment. Any claim for a deferral of an assessment must be supported by strong evidence that clearly shows serious exceptional circumstances.

Assessments will be deferred as follows:

Original assessment period Assessment deferred to:
Semester 1 Semester 1 resit period
Semester 1 resit period Semester 2
Semester 2 Semester 2 resit period
Semester 2 resit period October conditional progression
October conditional progression Semester 1

If you have an assessment deferred, particularly resits in Semester 2, you may not be able to progress to your next level of study as expected. You will be advised of this in the outcome of your claim.

Completing the claim form

In consideration of your claim, we need to understand the impact on your studies of the circumstances on which you are basing your claim. This is as important as the evidence you provide and will be used to either approve or decline your claim.

If you do not give enough information on the impact on you and your ability to complete assignments, you may be asked to supply more information and this will delay your claim. You claim may also be declined on this basis, or a shorter duration than that requested may be approved.

You should submit your completed form to your School Programme Administration and Support Service (PASS) team when it is complete.


You should claim as soon as you know your ability to submit your assessment to deadline has been affected. You must claim before, or within 24 hours of the deadline. Any claims received once 24 hours from your deadline has passed will be automatically declined.

Please give as much time as possible before the assignment deadline to apply. If you apply on the day of, or a day or two before, your deadline, you may not hear in time to know whether your extension has been approved. You should continue to work on your assignment whilst you await the outcome of your claim, as we cannot guarantee that it will be approved.

You should receive a response to your claim from us within 3 to 5 working days.

Programme extensions

You can apply for an extension to your period of study if you have completed all teaching for your final year of studies but have been unable to complete the programme's final assessments in the normal timescale due to exceptional circumstances. Make sure you give the detail on this form as to how the exceptional circumstances have impacted on your ability to study.

You can apply for a programme extension if you wish to request an extension of more than 3 weeks to your expected programme end date.

Programme extension policy and claim form

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